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THE GERMAN HALF MARATHON CHAMP IS GETTING READY FOR HIS MARATHON DEBUT
SAYSKY Athlete Philipp Baar is one of the fastest runners in Germany, despite his young age. He's won the half marathon national championships and on Sunday he's debuting on the marathon distance at the German nationals in Düsseldorf. The ambitions are clear: to contend for medals.
Philipp is a great and very openminded guy, whom we like a lot. His profile and mentality are very inspiring, so we decided to give him a few questions, to get some insights into what it means to be one of the fastest runners in Germany. It has something to do with pre-race beers...
1) Has running always been your thing and how did you get into it?
I started out playing soccer, like almost every boy probably did at some point, but quit fairly quickly because I didn’t like the coach yelling at us all the time. I was always one of the faster kids during PE class so my teacher suggested that I tried track and field, which I did. I liked it and kind of stuck with it. At my first state champs at the age of 10 I finished 6th, which was awesome at the time. I always seemed to perform the best in the running events. It didn’t help that I was always very small and skinny so I didn’t really have many other options. Running grew on me over time.
2) You’re working full time, yet you’re a part of the running elite. How do you find the time and energy to keep up on both fronts?
It does require a lot of discipline not to slack off. Especially the winter months weren’t easy. It’s not great to run in the dark twice a day. But running has given me a lot and I have plenty of goals left on my list, so I have no problems staying motivated. Of course, my schedule is tight, and I do not have much time for other things, but it helps that most of my friends are runners as well. So, we kind of catch up during practice. Imagine going on coffee dates with your best friends but instead of sipping coffee you’re hammering out mile repeats.
3) Can you tell us a little bit about your US adventure and what came out of it?
The idea first came up early in 2010. One of my teammates was approached by a US college and that’s how the idea started with me. I contacted Scholarbook, one of the leading recruiting companies in central Europe and they quickly sent out my profile to various coaches across the US. I got multiple scholarship offers and eventually decided to attend Texas A&M University Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi/Texas. There, I not only improved my running, but also received my bachelors and masters degree and met my now-wife Regina.
4) How’s the running culture in the US compared to Europe and Germany in particular?
Running in the US is quite different than in Europe and Germany. As with many things, everything just seems bigger: the competition, the teams, the budget, the expectations. One major thing that I learned from some of the other runners is to be confident. Especially US runners often forget how well (or not so well) they trained leading up to a race. That can hurt them, but it also keeps them to be confident. Some second-tier runners would come up to you and tell you about their absolutely unrealistic goals. Why this might seem foolish to some, it also impressed me. Dream big and don’t sell yourself short.
5) Did your US stay improve you as a runner and was that the motivation for going?
I went to the states so I could get a quality education, excellent training and racing conditions, but without the financial troubles of paying your way through your studies, like it would have been in Germany. The scholarship therefore was a major factor. Athletically, I improved dramatically. I went to the US with the goal of being competitive in the senior ranks on the national level. During my first year back in 2017, I won three medals at nationals, including one gold in the half marathon. So, I guess I did achieve my goal on that part.
6) Your wife is also totally into running; does it take up a lot of time and focus in your relationship or do you like to do other stuff as well?
Regina is also quite competitive and has some impressive PR’s to her name. It’s great to be married to a fellow runner. She doesn’t mind that I get up to run at 6am and that we have to turn the lights off at 9:30 or 10 during a regular week night. While our life is heavily shaped by our running endeavors, we do like to do lots of other things. Berlin has a lot to offer. We like to go to flea markets, comedy shows, or to hit the bars sometimes. Also, the techno clubs are excellent. Other than that, we do activities that substitute our running but are fun, like yoga or sauna.
7) What’s your strengths when it comes to running and where do you look to improve?
I think one of my strengths is to deliver my best performance when it really counts. I can run well at smaller events too, but I think I can really step it up on the big stage. I can keep my nerves calm and really get excited, in a good way. In some races my kick has been my weakness. I usually run with the leaders until I absolutely cannot keep up anymore. Others have told me to run more conservatively or save more energy for the final kick, but that’s not really my style. Also, if I’m having a good day, you will not beat me in the kick. It’s not that my kick is bad, it’s just that I won’t have a kick at all if I am not having a good day. On the other hand, do I deserve to win if I am not having a good day? At the end it’s all fair. The best runner will win, so if I’m having a good day, I will have a good kick. If I’m having a bad day, I will have no kick. But then I also didn’t deserve to win. Easy as that.
8) What’s your goals for this season?
My goal is to have a good debut in the marathon. I will run my first one at the Düsseldorf Marathon, which is also the German Championship. With a good performance I am hoping to qualify for the European Championship in Berlin this year.
9) What’s the long-term goal and dream?
My long-term goals have always been to win a medal at German nationals in the senior ranks and to run at a major international championship. I have won multiple medals, which only leaves one more goal on the list for right now. I’ve always wanted to show my future children the racing kit and ensure them that their old and fat dad used to be quick.
10) We’re hearing rumors that you like to drink beers before the big races – what’s that about?
One or two beers are a must for me before any race. It has become one of my main rituals for me. I usually prefer Hefeweizen beer. It makes me sleep well and just makes me feel good. It’s all about quality of life. For many, running is all about discipline and making sacrifices but I don’t think that’s a healthy way to look at it. As with everything it should be fun in the first place. Drinking beer before races used to have something rebellious about it for me. It took some pressure off. Over the years I just stuck with it.
If you like the singlet that Philipp's wearing on the pictures, you'll find it here.
Philipp Baar Running Bio:Born: 1992Based in: BerlinClub: Art DüsseldorfFavourite distances: 1.500m and half marathon at the moment
PR's:1.500m: 3:475.000m: 13:5910.000m: 29:31Half Marathon: 1:04:57
Keep up with Philipp here: Strava and Instagram
Pictures by: André Pristaff
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